The Washington Post

House Calls: A walk-through room worth stopping in


Landon and Sarah Johnson’s room. (Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)

When Sarah and Landon Johnson renovated their 1950 Cape Cod-style house in Bethesda, they turned the dining room into a sitting room with a cozy fireplace (not shown). But the front door opens into the room, making it an entryway to the rest of the house — and a puzzle to furnish. The Johnsons want comfortable seating around their frequently used fireplace, and storage by the door for backpacks and shoes.


The final design. (Illustration by Julious Goyanko for the Washington Post)

Designers Darlene Sheppard and Caty Tillman add classic pieces and patterned accessories to make the space feel less like a mudroom. Sheppard and Tillman, of Studio MOD(ish) (202-656-1334,, are based in Washington.

A wallpaper accent wall brings the focus to the fireplace and seating area.

To keep the entryway from feeling like a cluttered mudroom, use a simple white console with concealed storage.

A mirror near the door reflects light and gives the Johnsons one last look at themselves before they exit the house.

With space at a premium, use a sectional couch with narrow arms. Add accent pillows to break up the solid color.

Layering window treatments adds texture and additional privacy.

A pouf ottoman can be used for extra seating. Add a tray on top to hold drinks and snacks steady.


Furniture: Cushioned woodwork chair with blue cushion ($398,; Otto pouf ottoman in Tannon flax ($619 for 24-by-36-inch pouf,; 1920s French metal side table ($195,; Patchwork dresser in white ($1,299,

Accessories: Mirror ($195 for medium,; Diamondettes wallpaper in ivory ($195 per roll,; Elise 60-inch lamp ($350), Elise 48-inch lamp ($310), Terra pillow in frost ($129) and open-end steel tray in white ($79), all from; ikat Ogee curtain panel in ivory/platinum ($69 for each 63-inch panel,; Parula periwinkle Euro pillow ($230,; sheepskin pillow ($80,


Levin three-piece sectional in Dwell fabric and charcoal color. (Room and Board)

Kayseri rug. (Room and Board)

Levin three-piece sectional in Charcoal Dwell fabric ($5,297,

Kayseri rug ($2,299 for 8-by-10-foot rug,

. . . OR SAVE

Dunham left facing sectional in linen weave fabric and steel gray color. (West Elm)

Heritage rug. (Rugs Direct)

Dunham left-facing sectional in Steel Gray linen ($3,347,

Heritage rug ($560 for 8-by-10-foot rug,

See past room makeovers by local designers at

Tell us about your design challenge.

Send photos, room dimensions and contact information to

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Margaret Ely is a digital editor for Lifestyle. Previously, she was an intern for the Post’s Metro section.



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